Average low/high valley temps in Whistler in September range from 8c to 20c (46f/68f)
September hiking in Whistler is possibly the best month of all. The snow has melted far up to the mountain tops, yet the temperatures are still quite high. And just like that wonderful phenomenon of May and June, there are no annoying bugs. And with the passing of the first week of September, the summer season officially ends, so the number of hikers dwindles to virtually none by the second week. This is the time to really enjoy the mountains of Whistler. The Whistler Train Wreck is always an impressive hike and in September you get the wonderful fall colours to add to the beautiful paintings and graffiti. If you've never had the time or inclination, take 4 or 5 days up at Wedgemount Lake. The seemingly innumerable mountains to climb, glaciers to cross and incomprehensible sunsets to see make this place a phenomenon of the Garibaldi Range. You can even base yourself out of the wonderful Wedgemount Lake Hut. Though with the mild evening temperatures and no insects, sleeping under the stars is an appealing option. Garibaldi Lake, so frequently busy all summer, now quiets down and regains that desolate feel you come to expect when hiking in Garibaldi Park. A night at Garibaldi Lake, another at Panorama Ridge and a third at Helm Creek via Black Tusk, and exiting via Cheakamus Lake (if you have two cars for each trailhead), is an amazing trip. There is just so much to see in Garibaldi Park, especially in this little Garibaldi Lake, Black Tusk region, that a few days is far better than one or two days. Elfin Lakes at the bottom end of Garibaldi Park in Squamish is also fantastic in September, though still busy on weekends throughout the year. But then it's just that good, and fortunately is expansive enough to accomodate quite a few hikers easily. Squamish also has the Stawamus Chief, the great monolith of rock towering over the Sea to Sky Highway. The Chief and Shannon falls are a great half day trip from Whistler any month of the year. Closer to Whistler, there are a few, very good, dog friendly hikes. The Sea to Sky Trail that runs throughout Whistler is very dog friendly and amazingly scenic in September. Ring Lake and Conflict Lake up in the Callaghan Valley, south of Whistler and very beautiful and amazing in September when all the lingering snow has melted. In 2011 Ring Lake was still frozen in mid August! For a look at the best dog friendly hikes in Whistler check here.. And the best easy and short dog friendly hikes in Whistler here.. For a good summary of the best of the best hiking in Whistler take a look at the best easy hikes here.. and the best moderate to difficult Whistler hiking here.. Take a look at this summary list of the best 5 hikes in and around Whistler. These include Black Tusk, one of the most incredible hikes in Whistler, and a Whistler icon. Though a long hike, 15k roundtrip, the breathtaking and scary final ascent, makes the summit view even more memorable. You will see Black Tusk as you approach Whistler, about 30 minutes south on the Sea to Sky Highway. Hard to believe, but you can actually get to the summit of this absurdly vertical rock, and without special equipment or skill. Black Tusk is the amazing pinnacle of volcanic rock visible for hundreds of kilometres and located near the centre of . Black Tusk, along with the Chief in Squamish are the most astoundingly noticeable peaks in the Garibaldi Range. 170,000 years ago the Black Tusk was created when a lava dome formed within a million year old, volcanic cinder cone. The cinder cone is crumbling away, revealing the starkly black, hardened lava dome within. Looking at the Black Tusk from a distance, two things seem incredible. First, that such an unusual thing formed, and second that there is a trail that takes you to its peak. With a little sketchy and dangerous, though non technical climbing, you can get to the top of Black Tusk. It is a fairly long dayhike as you cover 30k on the roundtrip hike. There are three very nice campgrounds in the area allowing for a beautiful, multi-day hiking trip to the area. Helm Creek one one side of Black Tusk and Taylor Meadows and Garibaldi Lake campgrounds on the other side provide dozens of beautiful places to put up a tent. The final ascent of Black Tusk is a bit scary and dangerous so be prepared. You have to climb a narrow, steep and crumbly chute up about 10 metres to reach the top. Quite a few people don't climb this last part and instead just take in the extraordinary views from the base. Either way, Black Tusk is unquestionably one of the best of the best hikes in the Whistler area and in . Cirque Lake in the Callaghan Valley (30 minutes south of Whistler Village) is accessible via a short canoe trip across the Callaghan Lake. Located well off the radar in the Callaghan Valley, Cirque is a tough, very steep, though short hike to an extraordinarily beautiful cirque lake, high above Callaghan Lake. A cirque lake is formed out of a few interesting, alpine occurrences, combining. To form a cirque lake, a glacier must be a combination of size, a certain slope and more unexpectedly, a certain angle away from the sun. In the northern hemisphere, this means the glacier must be on the northeast slope of the mountain, away from the suns rays and the prevailing winds. Thick snow, protected in this way, grows thicker into glacial ice, then a process of freeze-thaw called nivation, chews at the lower rocks, hollowing out a deep basin. Eventually a magnificently circular lake is formed with steep sloping sides all around. Cirque Lake is a wonderful example of this interesting glacier formed world in the mountains. Largely sheltered from the wind, your campsite at Cirque Lake will be spectacularly serene, and the lake before you, incredible. Panorama Ridge, an unbelievable 30k roundtrip hike that passes the flower filled Taylor Meadows Campground, Black Tusk and beautifully turquoise Garibaldi Lake and of course best done via these other sights over 2-4 days. Panorama Ridge is beautiful and challenging hike and the views from the ridge are unbelievable. Panorama Ridge is easily one of the most amazing hikes in Garibaldi Park and September is arguably the best month to see it. No bugs, still warm weather and few other hikers in the park to distract from the tranquility. The 15 kilometre hike from the trailhead at Rubble Creek to Panorama Ridge takes you through beautiful and deep forests, across countless idyllic streams, through meadows filled with flowers, and past dozens of jaw dropping viewpoints. The amazing views start once you reach Taylor Meadows and get even more spectacular as the trail progresses. Joffre Lakes is one of the most beautiful lakes you are likely to ever see. There are three lakes and they get progressively more beautiful. By the third lake the intense blue is breathtaking. The mighty Matier Glacier rises above the third lake, making the experience even more spectacular. The trail is rough and tricky in some parts, but not terribly difficult. The trail is 5k to the third lake so give yourself 1.5 - 2 hours(one way). Lots of trail construction work happened in 2013 and even a new section of trail was built just before the third(Upper Joffre) lake. The third Joffre Lake ends in a U-shaped valley where you will find the far side of the lake towering with glaciers relentlessly crushing down on the lake. The sun fills the valley and the silence is wonderful. September marks the end of the busy, summer hiking season and after the 8th of September it becomes a rarity to see other hikers on the trail. September is also amazing in Joffre Lakes as annoying mosquitoes and flies have long disappeared for the year and nothing but the hilarious swooping birds to break the silence. Brandywine Meadows is a great hike in September as well. Dog friendly and though a muddy trail much of the summer, comparatively dry in September and still alive with beautiful flowers. Brew Lake is another dog friendly, though fairly tough hike, with beautiful views down to Daisy Lake from the trail. Brew Lake is another lake often frozen as late as July still, so September makes it a great one to try. The trailhead, a bit surprisingly, is not far from Brandywine Falls. If driving from Whistler Village, the Brew Main FSR is just before Brandywine Falls on your right. Don't expect any facilities on any of these three beautiful hiking destinations. They are well off the beaten track, not in Garibaldi Park, and wild, desolate and beautiful. Brandywine Meadows is a nice hike in a massive flower filled valley high up in the Callaghan Valley. Located 40 minutes south of Whistler, this tough and sometimes muddy trail gains a huge 550 metres of elevation in just 3k (trailhead to valley). The trailhead is tricky to find and involves a fairly long gravel road journey that is passable without a 4x4, but barely. Not that the road is potholed, which it is, but that it is at times very steep and strewn with loose boulders. is used mainly for snowmobiling in the winter months and the bumpy ex-logging road to the trailhead is in poor condition in the summer. The hike is consistently very steep for the first two kilometres. It is at times scenic though, despite being in very deep forest. The trail runs parallel to Brandywine Creek, which is steeply flowing, very loud and quite beautiful at various vantage points. After two kilometres on the Brandywine Meadows trail, the elevation gain levels off and you catch several alpine mountain peaks through the trees. And finally reaching the meadows, the amazing valley stretches into the distance, ending at the formidable mountains. This hike is best done in early July as you tend to avoid the onslaught of mosquitoes that the area is rife with later in the summer months. Early July and September keep you relatively safe from the swarms, though not entirely! Brew Lake is beautiful mountain lake just a short drive south of Whistler and is relatively unknown and seldom hiked. In July you will find patches of snow on the trail and often lots of snow at the lake. In September you should find Brew Lake a wonderfully warm place to visit. The lake lays in a massive alpine valley of enormous erratics scattered around and in the lake. On first seeing Brew Lake it looks serene, yet wild and hostile. The lake is surrounded on one side by idyllic tree covered hills and lakeside cliffs and on the other side a brutal looking wasteland of huge boulders sloping up from the lake to the skyline. Hiking into this wasteland of erratics reveals an amazing paradise of small, island forests, cute streams and endless worlds within worlds to explore. You find yourself wandering along like a kid mesmerized at what you will find next. Brew Lake itself doesn't come close in wow factor to the postcard-perfect alpine lakes such as Wedgemount Lake, Joffre Lakes, Cheakamus Lake or Garibaldi Lake, but I does beat these lakes in other aspects. Because Brew Lake is outside of Garibaldi Park few people have heard of it. More often than not you will have both the lake and entire valley to yourself. An increasingly rare occurrence elsewhere that gives the place a quiet calm and that strange and satisfying feeling that there are no other humans for quite some distance. You have that exhilarating wilderness feeling that sometimes gets lost on other Whistler area hikes when you start the trail from a parking lot packed with cars. The fact that the Brew Lake trail doesn't have a parking lot or proper trailhead actually makes it more mysterious, adventurous and in some way.
Cirque Lake in the Callaghan Valley, Whistler
Cirque Lake is one of the most beautiful lakes to visit in the Whistler area. The wild and hostile environment contained in a cirque valley create a staggeringly enchanting world high above Callaghan Lake. It is very remote feeling despite the short 2 kilometre hike to reach it. Getting to the trailhead requires paddling the length of Callaghan Lake to find the hardly visible beginning of the trail.
The unmarked trailhead to Cirque Lake is best located by aiming toward the loud and steeply crashing waterfalls at the far end of Callaghan Lake. Believe it or not, the Cirque Lake trail snakes along the right side, though usually out of sight, of the falls. As you paddle near the end of the lake, you will spot the understated outflow from the falls. A fast moving stream emerges from the thick forest into Callaghan Lake. Just a dozen metres to the right you will see a gravel bar and a large, fallen tree extending out into the lake. This is a good spot to disembark. You can tie up to this tree or drag your boat up the shore.
After dragging your canoe, paddleboard, kayak or boat ashore you find an impossibly tranquil clearing just metres from the water. Very concealed from the lake you see a small fire ring and sitting area that looks so perfectly natural that you instantly regret not making time to camp here as well. The trail then winds through the forest along the edge of the ominously loud waterfall/river on your left. If you are hiking in August, you will encounter blueberry bushes the entire length of the trail. You will quickly fill every available container in your pack and find yourself making very slow progress along the trail.
The trail is easy to make out due to a combination of boots wearing a path as well as the occasional orange ribbon. The first 15 minutes along the trail takes you through a very scenic forest and over a cute creek crossing. Soon the trail begins ascending quickly. Several sections require pulling yourself up by grabbing tree roots and one section has a rope to pull yourself up with. If you bring your dog along on the trail, he shouldn't have much trouble on these parts, though may need help up one or two spots later on.
Thirty minutes into the trail you will come to the massive boulder field down a steep valley. You will be ascending this boulder field to the narrow end several hundred metres up. This boulder field is marked with rock cairns and more orange ribbons, though the orange ribbons are few and the chances of losing the trail here are many. Your best bet here is to follow the markers as best you can and keep in mind the destination is the narrow top of this boulder field.
Once you make it through the boulder field you briefly pass through a small section of forest before abruptly turning right for the final ascent to Cirque Lake. This leads to the top of the cliff you have been eyeing for the last few minutes as you negotiated the boulder field. On top of the boulder field you see a tremendous view of Callaghan Lake. Just a couple hundred metres takes you to the edge of Cirque Lake.
The lake opens up before you as you arrive from above and then have to descend another short boulder field to get to one of only a couple obvious tent spots. There are three small plateaus that could accommodate tents. The one shown above is in the middle, and definitely the most spacious. It is also home to a tidy little fire ring with a million dollar view beyond. A bit unexpectedly there is an abundance of firewood as the disintegrating cliff on the right evidently dislodges trees quite regularly.
If you follow along the right edge of Cirque Lake you soon pick up on a faint trail that leads to Sky Lake. Sky Lake is under 2 kilometres away. Easy to find as the faint trail leads to a fairly easy valley to hike up further along on the right. If you keep bearing right you will find Sky Lake near the top of this amazing valley. Beyond Sky Lake there are several more smaller lakes that descend down the valley.